The olden days

31/03/2016

A couple of nice pictures that came my way recently.

The first was forwarded via Lost Newcastle; it’s a 1940s plan of what could happen with a dammed Styx, somehow creating a “canal living” experience around the TAFE.

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The second was through the amazing University of Newcastle Cultural Collections. It’s a picture of the “new” rail bridge across the Styx from, I think, 1909.

Styx Creek rail bridge

This bridge was itself replaced (according to the plaque on the southern side) in 2003; this would be when the central concrete support pillar was put in place, which must have been very reassuring for rail passengers.

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I’m not very good at that “historic overlay” thing, but you get the idea.

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Healthy food for all

13/03/2016

Yum!

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It must be good: it’s an Australian Government Initiative!

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Ugly rainbows

10/03/2016

They come and go in the gasworks: trucks, utes, men in hi-viz. Things are happening, and though we all got a letter from Jemena in the post I found it to be uninformative and only allowing them to tick the “engaging with community” box on the KPIs.

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You know what would work better than a website or newsletters? A blackboard at the gate upon which the contractors write who they are and what they’re doing that day. Easy.

Meanwhile, over the fuel depot, not much at all is going on. Which is a worry because, with this lovely warm weather, any material that increases in viscosity and mobility is taking the opportunity to move around the water table. At the edge of the beck there’s a permanent residue of emulsified oily byproducts that seeps out from beneath a crack in the creek bed.

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When the sun is at the right angle you can see a rainbow scudding across the surface of the water as the fuel (or whatever it is) leaches downstream.

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Rainbows are supposed to be pretty. This one is so very, very ugly.


Aspire and Prismo

09/03/2016

Is it one person, or two, or more? They (I’ll call them “they”, for convenience) started modestly, a rather shy tag in the drain.

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Then they got bolder.

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Then they brought ladders!

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I kind of like their stuff, it’s different to everything else that’s around. And that name, “Aspire”: so positive! (Don’t I sound like a patronising old fart?)

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Go you young things!


Show day fireworks

07/03/2016

Off they go again, fizzing and popping in the night sky.

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Jambo curled himself up in his basket and put his paws over his ears. I went and stood on the verandah, my shirt off, feeling the early autumn breeze against my bare skin.

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When the kids were little it was an annual ritual for us to all come out and sit on the seat on our front verandah and watch the fireworks. There would be two or three minutes of flashes and bangs and then it would go quiet for a minute, but we knew not to leave because that pause signified that the big fellers had been lit, the ones that climb way, way into the sky before crashing and cascading sparks across the show grounds and sending the flying foxes squawking and chattering from their roosts.

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This year there were no kids at home, not even a reluctant teenager. I took photos on my phone and texted them to my daughter in England. It just wasn’t the same.


Beef with mustard

06/03/2016

Graffiti is a given in every urban environment. From Dunedin to Reykjavik you’ll see walls daubed with tags and roll-ups. Some of them are witty and clever, some are thoughtlessly annoying, some have come to be considered as artworks.

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All street artists start somewhere, but most often it’s in the drains, on the under sides of bridges, inside warehouses, on derelict buildings. As with any form of creativity the early pieces are pretty rubbish. I’ve watched some guys’ paintings improve dramatically, from basic tags to accomplished large-scale pieces.

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But the world of street art is relentlessly competitive, and no matter how great your piece or your reputation you will, one day, get trashed.

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The gigantic roll-ups made by CUBE and POAS are invisible now beneath layers and layers of ugly tags.

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There’s been a beef on down the drain over recent weeks. The Christmas paint job that SEPS put up was sprayed out, then covered with something nowhere near as well executed.

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Someone who calls themselves DC has appeared on the scene. He or she has an ego that’s in inverse proportion to his/her ability. It’s all big stuff, shoddily done. [Note: see comments below from DC. Basically telling me to shut the fuck up. To all street artists: I don’t claim to know anything about you guys or what you do. I only write about what I see. As with anyone who isn’t on the scene I get it wrong. Just let me know; I’m fine with being corrected.]

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DC’s arrival coincided with lots of “Yah boo! You’re rubbish and we’re brilliant!” notices on the bankings.

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It’s all rather depressing, but I suppose that it’s the nature of the beast. I remember back in 2012 acknowledging the 50th anniversary of graffiti put under the Chatham Road bridge in October 1962 by PP and Bert the Flirt. And yet, when I went past there with Jambo, I was shocked to see that some scroat (as they used to say in The Bill) had defaced PP’s 50-year-old graffito! I mean, show some respect!

Why on earth was I so bothered by that? I’m such a stodgy traditionalist. I need to take a leaf out of the kids’ book.

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Surely not!

02/03/2016

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